Didi inks one-year deal with Phillies

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- These are your 2020 Phillies.

The Phils crossed off the No. 2 need from their offseason to-do list, signing free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million contract with free-agent shortstop. They had filled their No. 1 need on Monday, when they signed right-hander Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract. Gregorius and Wheeler are expected to be the Phillies' two most significant acquisitions of the offseason, although they will look for bargains to improve the pitching and bench before Spring Training.

The Phillies are now only a few million dollars underneath the $208 Competitive Tax Balance threshold. The Phillies have no intentions of significantly passing that mark -- or passing it at all -- unless there is a dramatic shift in their feelings. Assuming there is not, it means the main components for next season's Phillies are on the 40-man roster.

The Phillies targeted Gregorius, 29, at the beginning of the offseason. They like what they got. He struggled last season with the Yankees, following his recovery from Tommy John surgery, slashing .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs in 344 plate appearances. But Gregorius posted a combined .812 OPS with a 114 OPS+ over the previous two seasons in New York. The Phillies believe he will return to form in 2020.

Gregorius believes it, too.

He was open to a one-year or multiyear deal, but a one-year contract with the Phillies means he is betting big on himself to play well, reestablish his market and sign a more lucrative deal next winter.

Gregorius had interest from other teams, but the Phillies believe his relationship with Joe Girardi in New York helped their pursuit.

Gregorius will move Jean Segura to second base or third base. The Phillies have reached out to Segura, who is open to moving to second base. He played there in 2016 with Arizona, posting a career-best .867 OPS and 122 OPS+. Segura has never played third base, so if the Phillies want him to play there, they will need to see how he does in Spring Training.

Ideally, Gregorius at shortstop and Scott Kingery at second base is best for the Phillies' defense. But Kingery has played third base, too. The Phillies believe it could work.

The Yankees didn't extend a qualifying offer to Gregorius, so his signing didn't cost the Phillies Draft-pick compensation.